229 Grove Street, Worcester
By Bernie Whitmore
The dining scene may sizzle with news of celebrity chefs and the latest dining trends, but so very often what we actually need is a familiar place to meet neighbors and friends, somewhere that doesn’t require us to get too dressed up or make a special trip to the ATM.
Tweed’s is just such a place. The decor trends vary per the latest holiday, but the overall theme is Irish Pub… plenty of beer flowing, framed quotes of classic Irish verse featured in many booths, and a shamrock motif. The place is almost always busy but it never seems to lose its sense of Irish hospitality. Soon my friend and I were seated; Sharon, our server for the evening, welcomed us with Tweed’s trademark bowl of popcorn, a dose of buttery-salt flavor that always works up a thirst.
If you’re expecting a plate of steaming corned beef and cabbage, well, you’ll have just one day each year to find it at Tweed’s ~ the day of Worcester’s Saint Patrick’s parade. There’s even a countdown plaque on the wall to remind us of how long we have to wait for that special day.
The closest I could find to Irish cuisine was the Fish ’n Chips, a dish, perhaps, more popularized by that other nearby island nation. But for value and freshness, it would be difficult to beat Tweed’s House Salad. The bowl of mixed greens was lush and crunchy enough, but it excelled in a couple areas that most kitchens struggle with: cucumbers and red onion. When these ingredients are prepared too far in advance they get limp and their flavors too strong; Tweed’s were tender and sweet enough to pass around. A plastic cup of serviceable parmesan peppercorn dressing was served on the side.
But back to the Fish ’n Chips; Tweed’s hunk of flaky white haddock was moist, mild in flavor, and satisfying in size. It came served over a matrix of crispy French fries; all of it was steaming hot. Their creamy-sweet coleslaw was no mere afterthought, either, and the shredded cabbage had absorbed the dressing’s flavor without going soggy.
My friend seizes these visits to Tweed’s as opportunities to order either the Lobster Roll (one of the best deals going) or whole-belly clams. This evening he ordered the market-priced Fried Clams in a Basket. Many places serve this meal in those shallow plastic “baskets” that over time and, through some weird chemistry, become gummy to the touch. Tweed’s uses real wicker ~ big square baskets that reminded me of what my grandmother stashed her sewing stuff in.
As usual, the clams were tender and sweet. We both remarked that our fried fish wasn’t at all oily or heavy with deep-fry flavor. Tweed’s must use a higher grade of frying oil and change it often, plus they must serve enough seafood to keep it turning regularly; both haddock and clams were absolutely fresh.
Simply put, Tweed’s offers solid pub fare at honest prices with friendly service. They may not have much of an Irish menu to order from, but their green runs through and through. Shamrocks, poetry, and a Saint Patrick’s Day count-down calendar… as I watched patrons excitedly kitting out for the next Keno game, I had to wonder if perhaps Tweed’s might even sport a bit o’ Irish luck.